Preventative Measures Can Save Time, Money

Winter has arrived and now is the time for homeowners to make sure their plumbing and heating is working perfectly.

With this in mind, The Post-Journal asked local plumbers what to do to ensure the holidays and winter season get off to a great start. All of these preventive measures can save consumers time and money.

The first thing the experts agree on is having thermostat batteries changed regularly. Depending on the size and type, most thermostats require AA or AAA batteries.

To ensure the safety of the furnace and the home make sure it is functioning properly. The most common breakdown of a furnace comes from not changing the filter monthly.

“An unchanged filter is the most common cause of an overheated furnace and can shorten its lifespan,” said Mark Johnson, owner of Johnson-Whitmeyer Plumbing-Heating Co.

Unchanged and dirty filters can back up a furnace and become a fire hazard. Unclean blower motors are also a common issue.

“These are the most common things to see because the blower motors can get hot and put strain on the furnace,” Reed’s Plumbing and Heating owner Stephen Reed said.

Another concern raised by clogged furnaces is air forced into homes with chimney flues. It can ultimately put lives in danger.

“It creates carbon monoxide when it is not clean, so cleaning your flues is important,” Reed said.

Water gauges should be checked and/or replaced. The gauge should be set at near zero on newer systems and 12-20 on older baseboard systems.

Plumbing can be damaged in many ways during winter if it is not insulated properly. Exposed water pipes can freeze very quickly. In addition drains can block very quickly if the wrong type of materials are put down them. Depending on the structure, homeowners are advised to be sure their sump pumps are working properly.

The type of home can be a deciding factor in how easily pipes can become frozen. Mobile homes need special protection to be properly insulated.

Since mobile homes are raised off the ground, drafts can easily creep under the foundation. For this reason it is highly recommended to prevent them from being exposed to the elements.

“I recommend skirting around the base of the structure for mobile homes,” Langer said.

In addition, all homes should be caulked to prevent cold air from entering the house. These include window edges and/or basement foundations. On average only 1 inch of gap is needed to freeze air in windows.

Simple tricks can also benefit your furnace on a long-term basis. One is to shut off the water main when a house is unoccupied for an extended period of time. Another is opening cabinet doors under sinks to prevent freezing. Garden hoses and any other attachments should be removed from exterior faucets to prevent ice from collecting and ultimately blocking home plumbing. Certain products are also available to assist homeowners in the work.

“I recommend investing in a heat cape to prevent freezing,” Henry Langer CEO and President of H Jacks Plumbing and Heating said.

Other ways plumbing can be blocked is from refuse dumped down them. Oil shouldn’t be put down drains, especially when it is hot.

“It freezes when it hits cold pipe,” Johnson said.

The holiday and winter season is the time of the year when plumbing and heating contractors receive the most service calls. As a result, many companies get overrun with backlogged requests. Depending on the issue it could be prolonged before it is resolved. The demand also may not let any contractors respond to calls at all.